Why the compromise?
So—why the compromise position? Taken together, these reasons added up.
1. Most users don’t care about this issue; they want to read the news.
The reason NetNewsWire is forgiving with RSS feeds is because other aggregators that came before NetNewsWire were too. Did I get bug reports like “I can’t read this feed in NetNewsWire, but I can read it in x?” Yes.
2. There’s the prisoners dilemma.
Given that only one other aggregator developer was willing to require well-formed-ness for Atom, I was going to get bug reports for Atom feeds. “It works in x, but not in NetNewsWire, it must be NetNewsWire’s bug, right?”
I don’t have time to spend on bug reports for bugs that aren’t even my bugs.
3. There’s an issue of perceived bias.
The reason I wrote my own weblog software was so that people wouldn’t suspect that my software is designed to work best with system x. There’s a similar issue here: I’m on the RSS Board, and yet I don’t want people to think NetNewsWire is designed to work against Atom.
There are some ironies here, of course—one of them being that I believed that my initial choice was the best thing for Atom. (One person jokingly suggested I be removed from the RSS board for being too good to Atom.)
In fact, I still believe my initial choice was the best thing for Atom.
But my job is writing software that people like; my job is not to take care of Atom.